This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign centres around encouraging collective action, to champion for gender-balance in all areas of business and community. Previously a day to mark the actions of the women speaking out about unfair conditions in the workplace, IWD has now evolved into a global celebration of women’s achievements across social, political, cultural and economic areas.  IWD aspires to create a platform, for women and men to embrace a sense of collective responsibility and affect positive change. 

The first Women’s Day that was recognised and celebrated internationally was on 19 March, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, and saw rallies and protests led by both men and women campaigning for improvements regarding women’s pay, voting rights and gendered discrimination. Since then there have been very few alterations to the date and theme; the underlying message is clear – women need to be celebrated, supported, empowered and included. 

Some of the endeavours undertaken by this yearly international movement have included addressing and reducing violence against women, closing the pay gap between men and women, and furthering advocacy for balance between men’s and women’s respective access to areas such as business, media, sports, wealth and community. To participate in the events surrounding International Women’s Day is to take part in a global experience, inspiring an international shift of mindsets and encouraging solidarity between women from diverse cultural, linguistic, economic, educational and community backgrounds. 

New South Wales is currently holding its inaugural 2019 Women’s Week, toward a more committed approach to supporting women throughout the stateMultiple events are scheduled for both city and regional communities. This year, Western Sydney Community Forum again supports events in Western Sydney, including through the ZEST Awards, in celebration of the innovation, leadership and milestones achieved by women in the region’s communities. WSCF encourages exploration and attendance at IWD events, as part of the collective movement to bring about #BalanceforBetter.

– Camille Derriman

Image: Women of the Ninth Annual ZEST Awards, led by WSCF